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Ex-education secretary takes lucrative second job with schools company

Gavin Williamson is to take a new job with a private education company (John Sibley/PA)
Gavin Williamson is to take a new job with a private education company (John Sibley/PA)

Sir Gavin Williamson has taken a job reportedly worth £50,000 a year as an adviser to a private education company – less than a year after leaving the role of education secretary.

Sir Gavin was Secretary of State for Education from July 2019 until last September. The new role will see him become a board member of the Regent Advisory Panel, part of the RTC Education company.

The company describes itself as an “education, real estate management and investment organisation that owns and manages independent schools, higher education colleges and an investment business”.

The former education minister will earn around £50,000 a year from the second job, according to The Guardian.

Sir Gavin was twice sacked as a Cabinet minister and oversaw the exams fiasco in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ex-minister was given the green light to take up the role by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), an anti-corruption watchdog that advises on post-ministerial jobs and is chaired by Lord Pickles.

A furore last year saw calls for a reform of the rules around second jobs for MPs, before the Government ultimately concluded that it would prove impractical to put a cap on other sources of employment.

Acoba, which has repeatedly been branded toothless and lacking in enforcement powers, did lay down some conditions on the take-up of the role by Sir Gavin and noted the short time period between him leaving Government and taking up the role.

“There is an overlap with your work and responsibilities as the Secretary of State for education and this role in the education sector,” according to Acoba.

“RTC has a stakeholder relationship with your former department as it is an education provider, though you did not meet with RTC while in office and the Department for Education confirmed you made no decisions specific to RTC Education Ltd or its competitors,” the committee noted.

It went on to conclude that there was only a “limited” risk that Sir Gavin could have access to sensitive information of benefit to RTC Education.

“As Secretary of State for Education, you may have access to sensitive information that could present an unfair advantage to RTC or any organisation operating within the education sector.

“This risk is limited given eight months have passed since you left office and the DfE considered the information you had access to would no longer be sufficiently up to date to be of use to the organisation; with policy moving on significantly under the new Secretary of State or having already been made public.”

The watchdog, in granting approval for Sir Gavin to take up the role, stressed that the former education secretary should not draw on any privileged information available from his time in office, while for two years from his last day as a minister he should not become personally involved in lobbying the Government on behalf of RTC Education.

It also imposed other conditions related to lobbying and providing advice.

Sir Gavin, as well as RTC Education, have been approached for comment.